Category Archives: Life and Technology

I never thought this could happen to me, again!

in_hospital_on_iphoneThis is a picture of me in the hospital on a Sunday afternoon more than four weeks ago, after I ran the Georgia Half Marathon. I learned just a few hours earlier that I tore my retina — an injury that I previously had when I was in my early 20’s that left me with 20/30 vision in one eye. Seeing that I’m in my early 40’s and that the first injury was deemed a complete fluke, I thought that I was set for life but apparently I was not. I now had to undergo emergency eye surgery on my other eye — the one that I considered to be “good” — to repair the retina and save my vision again.

With my wife by my side, I sat in the bed frantically typing on my iPhone canceling appointments and delaying others. When I finished, I handed my phone back to her and was about to relax when it buzzed with a text message from one of the partners at my firm. My wife said that he wished me good luck and asked what he could do to help. I asked her to let him know that he should temporarily take over everything that I wasn’t able to push out (and thankfully he did without missing a beat). Shortly after sending that message, I realized just how quickly everything in life can change!

That evening, the doctor spent an hour (or so) repairing my retina. He essentially reattached a wet tissue paper inside of an elongated golf ball. To say that was impressive procedure is a complete understatement but he did it! The next day I was sent home to start of my recovery, which included no strenuous activity — nothing that could raise my blood pressure. Next to the pain, that was the toughest change that I had to make!

Fast forward to my last visit, the only visible marks of the procedure is redness in the outer corner of my eye. It kind of resembles pink eye, except I’m not infectious! At that appointment, I discovered that my vision drastically improved from 20/200 to 20/30 — basically going from blindness to near normal vision. The profound change happened because the gas bubble, which was used to push down on my repaired retina, finally began dissapating. It still isn’t gone but it will in a few more weeks. The speedy recovery is truly exceptional — I am incredibly lucky considering the size of the tear! And I am learning to adjust to not running hard at my normal pace.

I am incredibly thankful for my family, friends and colleagues and the overall outcome of this situation. And my wife has been my rock through it all — something that I am grateful for! While I am not out of the woods yet, I am hopeful I’ll regain my vision and resume full, normal activity by the middle to end of May. It is great to see the light at the end of the tunnel — literally!

What Jay Baer’s book Youtility taught me

youtility_book_jay_baerAs a consumer, you probably don’t pay much attention to the profound impact that technology is having on our behavior. For example, wearable tech like the Nike FuelBand is improving our awareness of daily activity. And the more we monitor, the more easily we are encouraged to remain on track. But technology is also having the opposite effect on marketing. According to Jay Baer’s book Youtility, technology is making top-of-mind awareness, or keeping a product or service in front of a consumer, ineffective. This shift is forcing marketers to become more creative in how do they connect with consumers. Baer stitches together several arguments that have resulted in this shift:

  1. The media landscape has severely fragmented. Almost 40 years ago, a commercial airing alongside the #1 show Happy Days would capture the attention of 30 million viewer in the US. Nowadays, a “hot” show like The Walking Dead at best would have half that number of viewers. That number doesn’t seem so bad until one considers that in the US half of all cable/satellite subscribers have DVR’s and DVR users tend to skip half of all commercials. So the overall reach of TV has dropped by 75% over the past four decades.
  2. Consumers’ distrust of brands continues to grow. According to Edelman’s Trust Index Barometer, trust in businesses continues to fall year annually. edelman_trust_index_US_business_2014
  3. Consumers are extremely diligent in making buying decisions. On average, consumers rely on 10.4 sources of information before buying. While that’s a lot of research, brands have to be one of the go-to sources or miss out on the buying opportunity.

The issue at hand is the new friction between brands and consumers: today’s consumers are more elusive. And given that they are also less loyal than ever before, it is not surprising that marketers today are desperately looking for ways to deliver the right message at the right time to the right audience. From Baer’s perspective, brands focus on being helpful have a fighting chance to connect with consumers. Brands can reach this goal by producing high-quality content. That requires more than an army of one — it requires brands to mobilize their entire team. One of the striking examples in the book is OpenView Venture Partners, a 30 person shop that publishes a tremendous amount of content:

  • Daily: 1 article, 1 video
  • Weekly: podcast, newsletter, interview with business or marketing expert
  • Quarterly: 2 ebooks, 2 case studies, 2 reports, info-graphic & online assessment tool

So does this strategy actually work? Beyond reading about the case studies in the book, I’ve successfully applied this strategy in growing awareness for my agency channel. In my line of work, I help deliver technology solutions to agencies so I need to know who’s who. Early last year, I created and published a slide to Slideshare that highlighted network and non-network agencies in Atlanta. And that version of the slide received over 3,000 views in just a month! Since then, I’ve updated the slide a few times based on feedback from the agency community. Collectively, the slide has received close to 6,000 views on Slideshare over the past year. That is why I think that Jay’s book is a must-have for anyone that’s serious about marketing! Thanks to Mathew Sweezey, a marketing strategy evangelist at Pardot, who suggested that I read this book!

Top Marketing Agencies in Atlanta for Q1 2014

Late yesterday I published the new Top Marketing Agencies in Atlanta slide. This version represents a current view of network and independent agencies in our market. Here are few highlights that I want to call to your attention:

  • Added 2 Networks: Dentsu and MDC Partners.
  • Removed Engauge. It was acquired last year by Zenith Optimedia Publicis (full disclosure: Engauge was my prior employer).
  • Added several PR firms to the Independent agency category.
  • Added Brighwave Marketing and Nebo. Both were previously left off.

I also want to clarify two things regarding this slide:

A) The selection process:
For agencies that are a part of the major networks (e.g.: WPP, Omnicom/Publicis, IPG, Dentsu, MDC Partners), I simply consolidated public information. For independent agencies, I used the following qualifications:

  • Number of employees (15+)
  • Annual revenue ($3M+)
  • Prior history of digital marketing campaigns
  • News regarding new clients/engagements

The objective is to eventually consolidate the list to 100 agencies. Additional criteria may/will be used reach this objective.

B) Corrections/Updates:
If find an error or would like to be considered, please contact me at my work email address (ttishgarten at arke dot com). You may also want to subscribe to my Agency Digest email list to receive noteworthy news about Atlanta agencies and updates regarding this slide. NOTE: This is a low volume list:

And finally, there are a couple of up and coming agencies that are rapidly growing that didn’t make the cut this round:

  • Sandbox. This agency started late last year and already built an impressive client portfolio. It is run by Donovan Panone and Carla Paschke, two former colleagues of mine.
  • FortyFour Digital. This agency started early last year. It is run by Adam Roe and Thomas Frank.

If you have any other feedback, please leave it below in the comments. I hope that you find this slide to be as valuable as I have.